Seabourn Adds Cuba – Other Cruise News: Celebrity’s New Celebrity Edge – Silversea To Revamp Its Fleet
by Kevin Griffin
Last week saw more news from Cuba. Seabourn will become the third member of the Carnival Corp & plc group to serve Cuban ports, when it joins Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line next November, sailing from Miami and San Juan. The first ship of the new Celebrity Edge class will be in service by the end of this year, and will be based in Europe next summer. Elsewhere, subsequent on joining the Royal Caribbean Cruises group, Silversea has announced a fleet-wide revamp of its fleet.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Seabourn Adds Cuba
Ultra-luxury cruise line Seabourn has announced that it will begin sailing from Miami and San Juan to Cuba, starting with a 12-night cruise aboard the 458-berth Seabourn Sojourn, departing Miami November 4, 2019.
Seabourn is Carnival Corp & plc’s third cruise brand to be approved to sail to Cuba after Carnival and Holland America.
Seabourn guests can choose from four itineraries with five departure dates. Seabourn’s sailings will help meet the growing demand for luxury travel to Cuba.
The 11-, 12-, and 14-night sailings will visit five ports in Cuba, calling at three or four on each itinerary and visiting different regions of the vast island. All five voyages will feature overnight stops in Havana. Havana, along with Nassau, was one of the Caribbean’s first overnight stays, something that actually dates back to the 1920s. The Havana call allows guests time to explore Havana during its 500th anniversary year.
Seabourn Sojourn will call at five ports in Cuba through the season:
Antilla – The entry to the deep-cut Nipe Bay passes by Cayo Saetia National Park, a natural reservation with diverse flora and exotic fauna. Holguin province offers authentic Cuban communities such as San Isidoro de Holguin, with 18th-century churches and sleepy plazas. Pico Cristal and Mensura national parks have the twin Guayabo waterfalls, Cuba’s highest.
Cienfuegos – One of the later colonial cities, Cienfuegos was founded by French nationals in 1819, yet it is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its remarkable concentration of 19th century architecture. The Jagua Castle at the entrance to the bay predates the city, having been erected in 1745 to protect against pirates. An overnight stay allows exploration of the city’s highlights and cultural experiences, as well as a visit to the colonial town of Trinidad, another UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Havana – Visit Cuba’s capital during its 500th anniversary in 2019. An overnight stay in the city offers opportunities to experience its history and enjoy the thriving music, dance and graphic arts scenes, as well connecting with artists and community projects. A highlight is Old Havana and its Fortifications, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Havana invites guests to tour 16th-century plazas and Art Deco treasures and lovingly preserved vintage American cars from the 50s and 60s.
Punta Francés, Isla de Juventud – This idyllic island is the second largest in Cuba, where Cuban vacationers snorkel and dive on coral reefs and shipwrecks in the National Marine Park. A hidden gem off the coast of Cuba, the island was once a pirate hideout. Now it supports farms dedicated to breeding sea turtles and crocodiles. The Punta del Este Caves are the “Sistine Chapel” of prehistoric Taino petroglyphs.
Santiago de Cuba – Founded in 1515, Cuba’s cultural capital is filled with monuments of its colonial and revolutionary history, including UNESCO World Heritage Site San Pedro de la Roca castle. Santiago will reward a two-day stay with highlights including its cathedrals and the museums of the Moncada Barracks, the Velazquez House, the Lucha Clandestina museum and the neighboring community of El Cobre and its Basilica de la Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre. It is also the wellspring of all styles of Cuban music.
These cruises by Seabourn Sojourn add Seabourn to the historic launch of cruises from the US to by Carnival Corp & plc, along with sister brands Carnival and Holland America.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Celebrity’s New Celebrity Edge
Celebrity’s new 2,900-berth Celebrity Edge will be sailing by the beginning of 2019. This new class of ship will change the way people experience life at sea. After two years in the planning, every design element has been developed as far as possible.
Several new features, including Eden, Infinity Balconies, Magic Carpet, and other new spaces will deliver a completely different experience.
The Eden culinary and entertainment space is where nature will take over and is sometimes referred to as a “room that lives.“ There will be nothing else like it at sea.
Cuisine in the Eden venue will be served across three decks by “Edenists,” as the space also includes 7,000 square feet of glass.
Infinity Balconies will expand cabins right up to the edge of the ship – by moving the strength members inside the ship. As a result, stateroom floor plans will be on average 23% larger than before, with bathrooms gaining an extra 20%. This feat of engineering is accomplished by moving the strength members in the ship’s structure inboard and away from the ship’s outer shell, where the strengthening has traditionally been positioned, dividing cabin from balcony.
The Magic Carpet. The ship’s designers also wanted to solve a guest complaint that the process for boarding the tenders at smaller ports was crowded and awkward. The design team explored half a dozen alternatives before deciding on an elevated platform the size of a tennis court that can serve not only as sea level access to the tenders, but also as an oyster bar on the restaurant deck, a cocktail bar on the pool deck and a dinner venue on the top deck.
This structure will accommodate 90 diners and will be found on the starboard side of each ship. They will be hard to miss as they will be painted orange, rather than a more calming light grey or blue as used on the hulls of Royal Caribbean’s “Quantum” class ships.
Magic Carpet will be the highlight of an outward facing design with the power to change mood, function and, even location. The cantilevered “floating” platform will soar over the open ocean, with full bar and space for live music and entertainment.
The “Edge” class ships will compare with the “Solstice” class ships as follows:
Silversea To Revamp Its Fleet
With the recent acquisition of Silversea by Royal Caribbean Cruises, a multi-year initiative called Project Invictus will take Silversea’s ultra-luxury offerings to the next level and will include ship revitalisation programs.
The first Invictus enhancements will arrive on the 596-berth Silver Muse next week, with an upgraded champagne and caviar offering will be opened.
These and other enhancements will be implemented fleet-wide, affecting a wide variety of on board features and strengthening Silversea’s reputation for indulgent, luxurious embellishments.
The planned renovation of the 388-berth Silver Whisper in December 2018 will be even more comprehensive and will include a partial refit of all guest cabins.
Silversea’s 302-berth Silver Wind will also enter into an enhanced drydocking in December 2018. Other vessels will join the plan for a fleet-wide “Musification” which will take inspiration from the design of the line’s flagship, Silver Muse.
The plan will be completed shortly after with an enhanced dry dock of the 388-berth Silver Shadow.
With Silversea joining the RCL lineup alongside Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, TUI Cruises and Pullmantur Cruceros, the Royal Caribbean Cruises fleet now numbers fifty-nine ships, with another fifteen on order.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)